Do Less, Not More
You’re hosting a party in your home and you’ve invited Jessica and her husband, Eric, whom you’ve known since college. You hesitated to include them because their behavior is often rude toward each other. You just now heard Jessica refer to Eric as an idiot—loud enough for everyone to hear. She is relaying a story about how he can’t fix a leaky faucet. She continues to complain about how she wishes Eric were handier around the house. You see Eric’s cheerful face fall into a deep frown and turn a few shades of red. Jessica, however, hasn’t been affected in the least and has gone on to a new subject. The body language of your guests has shown you that some people are uncomfortable with their exchange.
Everybody probably knows a couple like Eric and Jessica or maybe it’s you and your spouse. In relationships, people have a tendency to use things known as “invalidations.” This term isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Invalidation is something that subtracts value. In a marriage, invalidations are the things that take away from your spouse’s worth and from what they contribute to the relationship. They’re ways we hurt each other: Name-calling. Glaring. Complaining. Comparing. Isolating. Sarcasm. Cruel criticism. Ignoring the good. Assuming the worst. Refusing to listen. Withholding sexually. Disconnecting emotionally.
We add affectionate behaviors too like calling more regularly, buying gifts, more hugs and kisses and spending more time together. But what works even better is if you do less by ditching the invalidations. Eliminate behaviors that are harming your relationship, and you might realize that you don’t need to do more, because you’ll find that the good you’re already doing is able to help you win at home.